Breathing is the Breath of life: Huna and Yoga breathing techniques

Breathing is the Breath of life

Here’s a collection of some stuff on the Breath of life. It all comes from the Hawaiian Huna Tradition. I was first introduced to it during my Practitioner Course at the Northern School of NLP where we looked at the simple breathing cycle which you can find here. I am not trained in any Huna traditions and simply offer this as a space where you may wish to view a collection of ways to think about breathing. My initial interest in breathing was sparked by my work on Aerophobia because relaxation at the airport prior to a flight really helps.

Resources: Pamela Turner; Vince;

Basic Cycle of Breath

There are four phases to the breath:

  1. Inhalation
  2. Pause
  3. Exhalation
  4. Pause again before your next inhalation.

By controlling these phases you can activate and increase different energies to support you in whatever you need to do. As you begin to understand how this works, you will realize how powerful and useful this simple technique can be. I learned this Huna breathing technique in a training from the Huna Research Institute.

Looking at the picture, we see four elements and the four phases of the breath. The way to increase one energy in particular is to change the ratio of the breath.

An even ratio would be 1:1:1:1. Breathing in this way you would take a slow deep breath inhaling for one count, pausing for one count, exhaling for one count, pausing for one count before your next breath. Always place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth when breathing intentionally like this. If each breath was 4 seconds, then you would inhale for four seconds, pause for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, pause for four seconds. Everyone is different. Perhaps you’re more comfortable with a three second breath, or two, or five. Find what works best for you.

So, breathing in an even ratio of 1:1:1:1 would be balancing.

If you want to increase your energy, you increase the Fire element 2:0:1:0. This is known as the fire breath and would increase the fire element in you, energizing you. I also think it would increase your metabolism and burn blood sugar, but that is for you to find out.

If you want to calm yourself, use 1:1:2:0. This type of breathing is often used in Yoga and has been called the Breath of Enlightenment. It is very relaxing.

To ground yourself, increase the Earth element 1:1:1:2.

Practice with different ratios and combinations to find out what works best for you. As with anything Huna, you are the one who decides what works best for you not someone else.
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 Relax Your Racing Mind 

We often find ourselves far from our center, far from our Self, with our thoughts dragging us everywhere but home. It is not onlly frustrating but stressful, when your mind starts running around like a wild horse and it can be very difficult to stop the run-away process.

So, how to get out of that racing state and get back to your calm center?  How wonderful to be able to quiet your mind when it gets into that repetitive, racing, out-of-control state. Here is a quick way to do this that you can do anytime, anywhere during your day.

This is a very simple technique I developed, but as you will see, it’s very effective and even thouugh it is simple, there is alot going on to put you in the present moment and relax your racing mind!

The Technique

  1. Start to breathe deeply and slowly.
  2. Create a gentle smile.
  3. Ask yourself, “I wonder what my next thought will be?”
  4. Watch for it and listen.
  5. When the next thought comes up, just acknowledge it, then ask yourself again, “I wonder what my next thought will be?”
  6. Repeat

Why this technique  works so well!

Breathing slowly and deliberately – As your breathing slows down, your mind slows down.As you relax, you go from beta (left brain dominate state) to alpha, a more relaxed holistic state that connects body, mind and spirit.You are anchoring the quiet mind state to your deep breathing. As you keep repeating this, it gets easier and easier to quiet your mind because your body remembers what to do when you breathe deeply..

Creating a gentle smile – When you move your muscles into a smiling position, your body knows this as content or happy. It doesn’t care why you’re smiling, it just recognises the muscle movement. It responds by releasing endorphins that make you feel calm and happy.

When you ask yourself “I wonder what my next thought will be?” – You are setting your intent to watch your thoughts, not be them. You are wondering, just a gentle curiosity that doesn’t create resistance. You are identifying with your observer, your True Self, just watching in a peaceful, non-judgmental way. You are in the present moment, in your power.

This simple technique is very effective and will bring you inner peace whenever you need it. It’s very useful when you can’t get to sleep or when you want to defuse anger, and the more you practice it, the easier it gets! Let me know how this works for you!
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Piko Piko is an ancient breathing style used for centering and focus.

It literally means “center to center”. In Huna healing there are many energy centers, or piko points. The two most powerful are the navel and the crown of the head. The navel represents you physical source and lifeline while the crown symbolizes your connection with the aumakua, or spiritual realm.

You may perform the breathing pattern seated or standing. The process is as follows:

1. Get in a relaxed position
2. Put one hand on the crown of your head, and the other on your navel. You can use either hand for the positions.
3. Begin your deep breathing. Inhale while focusing on the crown of your head and exhale with attention on your navel. The hands will help you focus.
4. Continue until you feel energized. This could be anywhere from two-ten minutes.
5. You are now ready to ask questions of your spirit or make a prayer for manifestations in your life.
6. Close by thanking and blessing your spiritual source.
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One meaning of Hakalau is, “To stare at as in meditation and to allow to spread out.” If you’ve never tried it before, right now, this technique can be a real eye opener. Try it.

  1. Ho’ohaka: Just pick a spot on the wall to look at, preferably above eye level, so that your field of vision seems to bump up against your eyebrows, but the eyes are not so high so as to cut off the field of vision.
  2. Kuu: “To let go.” As you stare at this spot, just let your mind go loose, and focus all of your attention on the spot.
  3. Lau: “To spread out.” Notice that within a matter of moments, your vision begins to spread out, and you see more in the peripheral than you do in the central part of your vision.
  4. Hakalau: Now, pay attention to the peripheral. In fact, pay more attention to the peripheral than to the central part of your vision.
  5. Ho’okohi: Stay in this state for as long as you can. Notice how it feels. Notice the ecstatic feelings that begin to come to you as you continue the state.

Hakalau is the means, then, in the Hawaiian system for entering a rapid trance state at will.

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Breath and Breathing:
Key to the Unlimited
Power of Huna
by Rev. James Vinson Wingo, DD

Life is but a series of breaths. Breath is Life. We can live a long time without eating, a couple days without drinking, but life without breath is measured in minutes. Something so essential deserves our attention. Breath is the most important of all the bodily functions, in fact all the other bodily functions depend on breath.

As much as we are dependent on breath for life, so are we largely dependent on correct, healthy breathing habits for continued vitality and freedom from disease.

One of the first things we learn in Huna is that by controlling our breathing we can increase energy and vitality. On the other hand, incorrect, careless breathing leads to decreased vitality and opens us up to disease.

Civilization has changed our manner of breathing. Very few people breath correctly in today’s world. The results can be seen in poor posture, contracted chests, stooped shoulders, and the large amount of respiratory disease.

The foundation of health is a healthy bloodstream. Breathing is the way you fully oxygenate the body and thereby stimulate the electrical process of every cell in the body.

Breathing also stimulates the flow of the lymph fluid which contains white blood cells. The lymph system is the body’s sewage system. Every cell is surrounded by lymph. We have four times as much lymph fluid than blood! The blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the capillaries which diffuse them into the lymph fluid around each cell. The cells take only what they need and excrete toxins. Dead cells and other toxins must be eliminated by the lymph system, and the lymph system is activated by deep breathing!.

Whereas the blood system has a pump called the heart, the lymph system moves only through deep breathing and muscular movement.

Not only does physical health depend on correct breathing, our mental power, happiness, self-control, clear-sightedness, morals, and spiritual growth are dependent upon breath. Entire schools of Oriental Philosophy have been founded upon the “Science of Breath.”

In Huna we practice breathing exercises which allow us to gain control of our bodies and our selves, enabling us to send mana to any organ or area of thought (thought-form) to energize it and thereby strengthen ourselves and others. By controlled breathing we can not only cure disease, but also practically do away with fear, worry, and the baser emotions.

Although breathing is something we do naturally and automatically it is important to examine just how breath functions.
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The Mechanics Of Breathing

Breathing is accomplished through the elastic movements of the lungs and the activities of the thoracic cavity in which they are contained. The thorax is the portion of the body between the neck and abdomen. The thoracic cavity is occupied mainly by the heart and lungs. It is bound by the spine, the ribs and their cartilage, the breastbone and by the diaphragm below. It is more than simply the chest.

There are twenty-four ribs, twelve on each side which emerge from the spine. The upper seven pairs are called “true ribs” because they are fastened directly to the breastbone. The lower five pairs are called “floating ribs” because they are not directly attached. The upper two of them are fastened by cartilage to the other ribs and the lower three have free ends.

In respiration the ribs are moved by muscular layers known as the intercostal muscles. The diaphragm separates the thorax from the abdominal cavity.

In breathing the muscles expand the lungs so that a vacuum is created so that air rushes in (obeying that well-known law of physics). The whole process depends on the respiratory muscles. Without the muscles the lungs cannot expand.

So, in essence, the science of breathing relies on the proper control and development of these muscles resulting in the ability to attain the maximum degree of lung expansion and to secure the greatest amount of life-giving properties of air to the system. Proper breathing exercises allow us to efficiently accumulate the maximum amount of mana. This is essential to health and to the practice of Huna.

Categories Of Breathing

Upper Breathing. This is the most common method of breathing in Western society. This is also the worst type of breathing and is the source of many of our problems. One breathing this way elevates the ribs, collarbone and shoulders while drawing the abdomen in. The abdomen pulls up and pushes against the diaphragm, raising it.

In Upper Breathing only the upper part of the chest and lungs are used. This is the smallest area and so only the smallest amount of air enters the lungs. Also, because the diaphragm is being raised, there can be no expansion in that direction. Go back and review the mechanics of breathing. It will become quite obvious that Upper Breathing uses a maximum amount of effort and energy to obtain a minimum amount of benefit.

Upper breathing wastes energy. People who breath this way (most of our modern culture) are weak and unhealthy. Even athletes who should know better tend to breath this way and suffer because of it. Respiratory diseases and vocal problems can be directly traced to this manner of breathing which strains the delicate organs and results in harsh voices. People who breath this way often resort to mouth breathing which increases their problems.

Mid Breathing. This method of breathing is similar to Upper Breathing and only slightly better. In Mid Breathing the diaphragm is pushed up and the abdomen drawn in while the chest is raised somewhat and the chest partially expanded. The results are much the same.

Deep Breathing. This method of breathing is far better than either of the two preceding methods. Deep Breathing is well known among those who recognize the importance of breath in health and meditation. Many systems of breathing have been built around Deep Breathing. Many have benefited and much money has been made on Deep Breathing. It is, however, only a part of proper breathing. Deep Breathing must be understood before we can proceed to Complete Breathing.

You saw that in Upper and Mid Breathing the diaphragm is raised. The diaphragm is the great partition muscle separating the chest from the abdomen and its contents. At rest the diaphragm is like a dome above the abdomen. When it is used, the diaphragm is lowered to press down on the abdomen and force it out.

In Deep Breathing the diaphragm is used and the lungs are able to move more freely. This has led some to tout Deep Breathing as the best method as it is definitely superior to the previous methods.

The problem is that in none of these three methods do the lungs become completely filled with air. Even in Deep Breathing only a portion of the lungs are filled at best. Upper Breathing fills only the upper portion of the lungs. Mid fills only the middle and some of the upper part. Deep Breathing fills only the lower and middle parts.

It should be evident that a method which fills the entire lung space will be of the greatest value in allowing us to absorb the greatest quantity of oxygen and to generate the most mana. The Complete Breath is the best method known.

Complete Breathing. This method of breathing combines all the good points of Upper, Mid, and Deep Breathing while eliminating the objectionable features of each. It brings into play the entire breathing apparatus, every part of the lungs, every air-cell, and every respiratory muscle. The entire respiratory system responds to Complete Breathing and the maximum amount of benefit is derived from the minimum expenditure of energy. The chest cavity expands to its normal limits in all directions and every part of the breathing mechanism performs its natural function.

In Complete Breathing all the respiratory muscles are completely called into play. The other types of breathing use only a portion of these muscles. This means that the space for the lungs to expand increases and the muscles give support to the organs as needed. The diaphragm is under complete control and is able to function properly.

In the Complete Breath the lower ribs are pulled slightly downward by the diaphragm while other muscles hold them in place and the intercostal muscles pull them outward. This combined action increases the mid chest cavity to its maximum capacity. The upper ribs are lifted and forced outward by the intercostal muscles, increasing the capacity of the upper chest to its maximum capacity
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The Kahuna “Complete Breathing” technique

Complete Breathing should not be forced. This is a return to nature. Native people and infants breath this way naturally and that should be our goal. Once you have learned Complete Breathing it is not necessary to completely fill the lungs with every inhalation. This is an exercise for developing healthy habits and to be used several times a day in a controlled manner. With regular practice this manner of breathing will become a habit.

(1) Stand or sit erect. Inhale steadily through the nostrils. Fill the lower part of the lungs first by descending the diaphragm and thereby putting pressure on the lower abdominal organs, pushing the front wall of the abdomen forward. Next fill the middle part of the lungs by expanding the chest, pushing out the lower ribs and the breastbone. Finally fill the upper part of the lungs by protruding the upper part of the chest and thereby lifting the chest and the upper seven pairs of ribs. During this final movement the lower abdomen will be brought in slightly. This movement supports the lungs and helps fill the upper part of the lungs.

This breath is presented as three distinct movements, but the inhalation should be continuous, even, and fluid by expanding the entire chest, from the lowered diaphragm to the highest point of the chest in a uniform movement. Try to achieve an even, rolling action as you practice.

(2) Hold the breath for a few seconds.

(3) Exhale slowly through the mouth. As you do so hold the chest firmly in place, draw the abdomen in a little and lift it up slowly as the air leaves. When exhalation is complete you may relax the chest and abdomen. This requires a little practice at first, but it can easily become automatic.

Practice Complete Breathing in front of a mirror if possible with your hands over your abdomen so that you can feel the all movements.

Rhythm. Once you have the basic structure of Complete Breathing mastered you can begin rhythmic breathing. Try the Ha breath. Ha means four and it means breath. It is also the sound you should make when exhaling during the mana generating stage of the Ha Rite.

The four is divided into a ratio of 1:1:2 for the basic Complete Breath. This means you inhale for a count of one, hold the breath for a count of one and then exhale for a count of two. You hold the breath to allow full oxygenation of the blood and to activate the lymph system and you should take twice as long to exhale because that is when you are eliminating toxins.

It’s like Huna people have a reason for doing everything!

Use your heartbeat to establish a natural rhythm. You may want to start inhaling for a count of four beats, hold for four, and then exhale for eight. As you develop you can raise the number of beats for longer, slower breathing. This takes time. I started with a four count and now average an inhalation time of about thirty seconds, holding for thirty, and exhaling for sixty. Trained Yogis can take several minutes for one breath. Your breathing will improve with increased lung capacity and there’s no need to overdo it.

The Complete Breath is the foundation for all breathing. It should become your natural way of breathing, though as mentioned before you need not take it to the extreme with every breath. You should become comfortable with the Complete Breath, doing it naturally and evenly before proceeding with the following breathing exercises.

Breathing Exercises

What follows are some Yoga breathing exercises which when combined with Huna and Complete Breathing with contribute to great health, wealth, wisdom, and happiness.
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The Kahuna “Cleansing Breath”

This breathing exercise ventilates and cleans the lungs. It stimulates the cells and tones the respiratory organs. You may conclude the other breathing exercises with the Cleansing Breath as it refreshes the entire system. It can be used after speaking or singing to rest the repertory system.

(1) Inhale a Complete Breath.

(2) Hold the breath a few seconds.

(3) Pucker the lips as if your were whistling without swelling the cheeks. Exhale a little air through the small opening with considerable force, stop for a moment (retaining the air), and then exhale a little more. Repeat this exhalation pattern until the air is completely out.

The Cleansing breath can be used any time you are tired. I use this breath any time I have been around smoke or other air pollutants.
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The Chanting Breath

This technique can be used by speakers, singers, or anyone to improve their voice. This exercise provides power, control, and clarity. This is to be used only as an exercise and not as a regulate form of breathing.

(1) Inhale a Complete Breath very slowly and steadily taking as much time as possible for inhalation.

(2) Hold the breath a few seconds.

(3) Exhale quickly in one vigorous breath with the mouth wide open. This should be done instantly and your mouth should be wide enough to insert four fingers vertically between the teeth, or as close to this ideal as you can comfortably get.

(4) Rest the lungs with the Cleansing Breath.
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The Oxygenizing Breath

This breathing exercise is designed to stimulate the air cells in the lungs. Do not overdo it. You will likely feel dizzy the first few times you do this. If you smoke or have smoked, do this only under supervision because you can pass out from the incredible rush of oxygen which your body is not used to. When I first tried this exercise I was about fourteen, spent hours each day riding (and racing) bicycles, and even I got dizzy the first couple times. Go easy and if you do get dizzy, walk around a little and discontinue the exercise for a while.

(1) Stand erect with your hands on your chest.

(2) Inhale a complete breath very gradually and slowly. As you do, gently tap your chest with the finger tips. Move your hands constantly so as to stimulate every inch of the lungs.

(3) When the lungs are filled, hold the breath and pat the chest with your palms. As you progress you can pat your chest more and more firmly.

(4) Practice the Cleansing Breath.

This exercise is very stimulating to the whole body. Many of the air cells in the lungs become inactive over time from incorrect breathing, smoking, etc. This exercise when done regularly can stimulate those cells back into activity over time. It is a very worthwhile exercise.
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Primal Needs

Courtesy of Uncommon Knowledge with a touch of copy and pasting!


  • The importance of remembering that people have conscious andunconscious minds.
  • The fact that sometimes people don’t know their own true motivations and feelings about things so the conscious mind comes up with a theory or story that is at odds with their real unconscious motivation. You can look for congruence between what people say and what they actually do and how they communicate non-verbally. Remember that leakage of true feelings from the unconscious mind may take the form of incredibly brief ‘micro-expressions’. So stay alert.
  • Peoples’ true feelings are often communicated metaphorically – remember the coughing psychiatrist I mentioned.
  • And, most important of all, how so much human behaviour is driven by unconscious attempts to meet the primal emotional needs which each and every human being shares, and how if these needs aren’t met healthily they can cause people to act in all kinds of weird and not so wonderful ways.

The ‘primal needs’ which need to be met to avoid psychological and physical distress are:

1. The need to give and receive attention

Attention is a form of nutrition and without the right quality and quantity we will suffer mental and even physical distress and illness. It’s vital to understand the importance of how much and of what quality attention we give and receive in life, if we want to feel happier and have the space in our minds to focus on long term dreams and goals.

2. Physical needs such as nutrition, sleep and exercise.

We evolved to move a lot, eat simple nutritious foods (not grains and sugar) and sleep a fair amount too. If you physical needs are not met properly, you won’t feel right emotionally.

3. The need for purpose, goals and meaning

We all need to feel life has meaning and that we have purpose. Some activities (such as ones that help others and/or develop new skills) will feel inherently more meaningful than others (such as hours of TV watching or doing work that doesn’t inspire you).

4. A sense of community and making a contribution

Research(1) (2) has found that social connection is a boon to both physical and emotional health. We evolved to connect to others and be part of a group. Low self esteem and anxiety may prevent us from connecting to groups until we stop feeling like that.

5. The need for challenge and creativity

We all need to feel stretched (rather than stressed) because when life becomes too easy or repetitous then it loses meaning for us (see need number 3). Creativity can be mis-directed as when people misuse their imaginations to worry. We encourage the productive enhancement of creative resources through our downloads.

6. The need for intimacy

We need to feel there is at least one person who accepts us and cares about us unconditionally “warts and all”. To truly feel close to someone is a huge life enhancer. Physical intimacy (not just sex) is important for health and happiness too. Some people need to learn to relax with intimacy so they can start to fulfil this need.

7. The need to feel a sense of control.

When we feel powerless to make a difference and to influence at least some events we become vulnerable to all kinds of fears, anxiety and also depression. Knowing how to feel more in control and how to relax during the times when all you can do is wait and see is a vital emotional strength – a strength that can be developed.

8. The need for a sense of status.

Status is important (it even affects our hormonal levels). It’s not that we all need to feel better than others, rather it’s important for physical and mental health, to feel we have a recognizable, valuable and valued role within a community. Shyness, lack of confidence, self destructive habits can all block us from attaining a healthy status in life.

9. The need for safety and security

We all need to feel safe in our environment so we can enjoy life and grow. Our environment may be safe but if we don’t feel safe on the inside (because of panic attacks, phobias or trauma from the past) then this vital need will still remain uncompleted until we learn to feel safer on the inside.

Many Needs, One Life

It may seem that a life that meets all of these needs would be intolerably busy. But of course, one activity can meet many needs. Charity work for example, could be said to fulfil 1, 3, 4 and 5, and could contribute to 6 and 7.

Walking with a friend as a pastime might go towards 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6.

Generally, what this suggests, and what has been borne out by recent research, is that a more complex life is a more healthy one. Then if one area of life fails or is taken away from you, your basic needs are maintained, at least in part, by those that survive.

So the message is…

If your progress through life has gone a bit awry for you or a friend, check if there is petrol in the car, and that the battery is charged before going to a mechanic to have the engine taken apart!

From survivors of torture, to someone losing their job, those who are able to maintain a sense of control somewhere in their life fare the best. This is why having a variety of interests and activities is so important.

If these needs are not met, people become unhappy and may become ill.

When they are met adequately, we feel fulfilled and have space in our minds for projects that extend beyond the immediate gratification of instant emotional fulfilment.

This is one of the most important things you’ll ever learn regarding psychology.

If people are not meeting their emotional needs – perhaps because they are not even really consciously aware of them – then much of their behaviour will be an unconscious drive toward fulfilling those emotional needs regardless of what they think or say they are doing.

Much strange or so-called ‘difficult’ behaviour becomes readily understandable once we consider what need that behaviour might be clumsily – and unconsciously – trying to meet.

Research References

(1) The toxic effects of loneliness are confirmed by insurance statistics and numerous scientific studies. For example, one study of 972 Johns Hopkins medical students used results of personality tests to classify the students into one of five types. Thirty years later, when they checked health status, they found that students classified as ‘loners’ had sixteen times more cancer than people who vented their emotions to friends. Study after study has shown that feeling connected with other people is extremely important for physical and mental health. Suicide, alcoholism and mental illness rates are much higher among people living alone.

(2) Researcher Oscar Ybarra and his colleagues at the University of Michigan explored the possibility that social interaction improves mental functioning. In a series of related studies, they tested the participants’ level of cognitive functioning, comparing it to the frequency of participants’ social interactions. They found that people who engaged in social interaction displayed higher levels of cognitive performance than the control group. Social interaction aided intellectual performance. “Social interaction,” the authors suggest, “helps to exercise people’s minds. People reap cognitive benefits from socializing.” They speculate that social interaction ‘exercises’ cognitive processes that are measured on intellectual tasks. “It is possible,” the authors conclude, “that as people engage socially and mentally with others, they receive relatively immediate cognitive boosts.”

Convincer Strategy In Selling

Main contributors: Dianne Lowther; Shelle Rose Charvet; Andrew Hardman



  • See: must see data to get convinced
  • Hear: must hear data to get convinced
  • Read: must read data to get convinced
  • Do: must do it to get convinced


  • Number of Examples: use numbers
  • Automatic: assume, benefit of the doubt
  • Consistent: try it, each time you use it, daily, every time, consistent
  • Period of Time: match period of time

If you want to convince someone to buy, to authorise, to agree or to change, wouldn’t it be useful to know how that person can be convinced most easily One of the greatest benefits of this can be in reducing your stress. If you need to influence other people then it helps to understand how people become convinced.

There are two elements to a convincer strategy, one relates to the way the information is presented, the other is the time factor.

The first is the convincer representational system or how the person has to have the information represented in order to be convinced: Do they have to see it, hear it or experience it for themselves? Think about this for yourself – suppose you have a new colleague. How would you know that the new person was good at the job – would you have to see them do it, hear about it, or perhaps work alongside them and experience it? If you have to see it to be convinced that the person is good at their job, then chances are you also have to see it to be convinced of anything else. Doubtless, the person who coined the phrase “I’ll believe it when I see it” had a visual convincer. Someone with an auditory convincer has to hear it to be convinced. The person with a kinaesthetic convincer needs to experience for themselves.

The convincer rep system accounts for the irritating phenomenon of people who receive memos or emails but don’t act on them until someone calls them on the ‘phone and asks. (Auditory convincer) Or the people who agree to your proposal outlined in a meeting but do nothing until they see it confirmed in writing. (Visual convincer) And the customer who has listened to your explanation but would much prefer it if you could fax something to her to look at! (Visual again)

The second aspect of convincer strategies is the convincer demonstration. Going back to that new colleague, how often does the person have to demonstrate their competence for you to be convinced? Answers to this question will usually fit one of four categories:


The person with an automatic convincer will assume that the new colleague is competent unless they demonstrate otherwise. You can convince this person quite easily, but so can everyone else! They are easy to sell to and readily give their support for new ideas. They are probably the ‘early adopters’ of new technology. Being easily convinced, they can change their minds quickly and don’t always stay committed to a decision once they have made it. Interestingly, lots of sales people have automatic convincers and find it difficult to understand why other people are not as easily convinced as they are themselves.

Number of times

This person has to have the demonstration repeated several times before they are convinced. If you’re selling to someone like this, either show them the product this number of times, or show them this number of alternatives. For the customer services team I was working with this knowledge made a big difference. Their comments changed from “Why did I have to repeat myself FOUR times to that man – is he stupid???” to “I’ve just had someone on the ‘phone with a four times convincer” – imagine how much this reduced their stress. As a general rule, the higher the number of times a person has to run their strategy in order to be convinced, the more committed they will be to the decision once it is made. Persuading them to change their mind will also involve the same number of repetitions to achieve the necessary conviction.

There is potentially a shortcut to this, although it will only work if you have good rapport with the person. Suppose you need to convince someone who has a five-times convincer but you don’t have time to go through your proposal five times. After the second time, you say something like “If I’ve explained this to you once I must have explained it five times, isn’t it time you made a decision?” As I said, it only works if you have good rapport…

Period of time

This person needs a period of time to be convinced. It was probably someone with this style who invented the ‘trial period’. It might be a few hours or it might be months, but this person always needs this period time to be convinced. If you’re seeking their support for your project and they say ‘I’ll think about it’ ask them how long they’d like before you meet again. Don’t assume that this is a polite way of saying no.

Again, there is a possibility of a shortcut. Suppose you want to convince someone with a period of time convincer of three months. You present your proposal and they tell you they need to think about it. Do you wait three months? Unless you also have a three months convincer, probably not. So, if you contact the person again after a few weeks, you can open the discussion with a comment such as, “I’ve been so busy since we last discussed this proposal, it feels like at least 3 months since we spoke”. Again, it only works if you have good rapport but for those of us not endowed with the patience to wait three months for an answer it can really speed up the process!


This person is actually never convinced. They require repeated demonstration of your competence or the quality of your idea or your product. Nothing you can say or do will convince them. These people make tough managers, as you’ll only ever be as good as your last result in their eyes. Paradoxically, they can sometimes they end up appearing to be inconsistent inasmuch as they may strongly support someone they believe to be doing well, but then if that person fails in any way to meet their standards, they will cease to support them and look for a new champion. Over a period of time it can appear that different individuals are ‘flavour of the month’ for a time, before falling out of favour and making way for the next one. If you want to sell to someone with a consistent convincer, acknowledge that you can’t convince them. One of the ladies in the bridalwear shop had a customer with a consistent convincer. She eventually told her “I know that I can’t convince you that this is the perfect dress for you. You’ll only know for sure when you’re walking down the aisle in it on your wedding day”. She made the sale AND the customer was happy. Treat as a skeptic and try future pacing.

To make full use of convincers, it helps to know your own convincer strategy. If you have, for example, a three time convincer and you make a sale to a person with an automatic convincer, you might not be convinced that they have really bought unless they tell you 3 times! Save them the effort and tell yourself three times – it works just as well.

When I got a verbal face to face order from a major UK Theme Park for a cleaning machine, effectively I didn’t believe the guy because I was more bothered about making sure the equipment was correct for his situation. Perhaps my convincer number was different to his Automatic.

Of course, the main piece of information you’ll need to be able to make use of all of the above, is the convincer strategy of the person you want to influence. Most of them won’t know themselves and even if they did, in the normal course of business it wouldn’t be appropriate ask! However, most people will tell you, if you know what to listen for.

For example, the customer services team quickly found that the way a person described their problem often gave some clues as to their convincer strategy. After all, they must be convinced that they have a problem! The kind of things customers said varied from “It hasn’t been working properly for about a month, I knew it was time I got some advice” (period of time – one month) to “I’ve tried it 3 times and it just won’t work” (number of times – three) and “I’ve never had any trouble with it and then today it completely packed up” (automatic).

By listening carefully to the way a customer describes the problem, it’s possible to discover their convincer strategy and then use it to convince the same person that you have a solution for them.

Questions from Words That Change Minds Mobile Site:

  • Q: How do you know when a supplier is good at their job? (See, Hear, Read, Do)
  • A: They have to be able to deliver fresh products really quickly, certainly within 24 hours. (Do)
  • Q: How many times would you have to get rush deliveries within 24 hours to be convinced that they were a great supplier?
  • A: 3 or 4 I guess, why do you ask?

Template questions:

  • How would know if someone else bought a great ….? (See, Hear, Read, Do)
  • How many times would you have to (insert answer from above) to be convinced they bought a great…..? (Number of examples, Automatic, Consistent, Period of Time)
  • How do you know a colleague is good at their work? (See / Hear / Read / Do)
  • How many times do you have to (insert answer from above) to be convinced they are good at their work? (Number of Examples, Automatic, Consistent, Period of Time)


Olympian Study Techniques

Another great idea from Phil Chambers

In honour of the 5 Olympic Rings, this month I decided to share my own 5 rings (or letter O’s) to help you study or assimilate information faster.


As Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in Mind”.

Before tackling the book it is important to set your objectives and define goals. Break your goals into smaller aims. How long do you want to work for per session and how much do you want to cover? Ask yourself why are you reading the book? What specific questions do you want to answer?
Asking questions before you begin enables your subconscious to go to work as soon as you open the book. You will be on the lookout for particular facts and will be more likely to spot relevant information. Often the answers will seem to leap out at you. Spend five minutes jotting down what you already know about the subject. This gets you in the right state of mind to engage with the book, boosts concentration and means that you will lay a firm foundation to build upon. Connecting new and existing knowledge is far more effective than trying to acquire information in isolation.


Go through the whole book very quickly. Pay particular attention to summaries, conclusions, illustrations, diagrams, graphs and headings. Look at the contents page and index. You may want to insert strips of paper to act as bookmarks so you can quickly return to points of interest. The aim of this step is to familiarise yourself with that layout and rough content of the book. Imagine you are attempting to complete a jigsaw puzzle. This part is analogous to studying the picture on the
front of the box and spreading out the pieces.

Obtain information and answers

‘Skim and dip’ through the book. Don’t be tempted to dwell to long on any one section. Make notes as you read (Building up a Mind Map is a good tool for this).  Be selective in your reading. Remember your questions. Most information tends to be concentrated at the beginning and end of chapters so pay particular attention to these. In the early days of the internet when the web was referred to as the ‘World Wide Wait’, images were often shown as progressive JPEG files. You started with a very blocky image that gradually became clearer as more data was downloaded. The process of reading works in exactly the same way. You start with a vague picture and refine it bit by bit as you assimilate information.

Omit difficult bits

If there are parts of the text that you struggle with, just jump over them and continue onwards. The more context you have the easier these parts will become. Getting bogged down in detail does not serve any useful purpose. Returning to our jigsaw analogy the more pieces you put in place, the
easier it is to see where the remaining parts fit.


The final stage is to tie things together. Return to noteworthy parts of the text, fill in any gaps and answer your questions. If you want to retain what you have learned from the book, especially if you are studying for an exam, you need to review. Take a 10 minute break after finishing your notes then re-read them. This initial reinforcement is vital to maintain recall. Schedule time in your diary to review your notes or Mind Maps: Review for a second time the following day, one week later, after one month and finally after three months. These five reviews will be enough to transfer the information to long term memory. Remember to celebrate. This may sound frivolous but it is very important. It associates study with reward and motivates you next time you have a similar situation. The whole time you are enjoying yourself your sub-conscious is assimilating, integrating and interpreting what you have been learned so that it is embedded at a deeper level.

Next time you have to study a book, think of the Olympics and follow the five rings.

Time for a bit of creativity

More from Phil Chambers

To be creative you want to leave all avenues open. If you take a single word in isolation it can have a multitude of meanings and trigger countless ideas. As soon as you place it in a sentence you are restricting the meaning and taking away the freedom to associate. You are putting up walls, imprisoning the word. Even worse, sentences funnel you down a path of more and more selective thinking. You write your first sentence. The second sentence follows on from the first. Maybe it develops or refines the theme, but you choose the sentence that best flows. At each point in a narrative you are making choices or selecting. Selective thinking is the enemy of creativity. You need to employ generative thinking to come up with as many solutions as possible.

Capturing thoughts using a Mind Map without imposing sentences allows you total freedom to come up with hundreds of ideas. You can stimulate idea generation using various techniques. These include…

Metaphors: Take a different situation, generate ideas and then relate them back to your challenge.

Reversal: Identify as many ways as possible to make the problem worse and then propose the opposite.

Provocation and movement: Make a ‘silly’ statement, imagine what would happen if this were true and what consequence would arise.

Daydreaming: let your mind wander – Do you come up with ideas in the shower, on long journeys like travelling on trains or planes, or when you go for a walk? Give your subconscious time to work on a problem.

Challenging your assumptions: What walls have you put up that you restrict your thinking? Give yourself permission to stray from convention.

Taking a different perspective: Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. How would scientist like Einstein approach the problem? What would a tough businessman like Alan Sugar say? How would a politician, a nurse or a psychotherapist see things?

Only once you have generated ideas do you evaluate which are most likely to be fruitful. With one or two really good ideas, you can develop them, flesh them out and finally articulate them in sentences. Don’t serve a life sentence of sentences. Break your creativity out of jail.

How to remember Birthdays and Anniversaries

Courtesy of Phil Chambers

One such method is The Major System. It may seem a bit odd

to start with, but stick with me. You represent each digit

by a letter code, combine these to make words that you can
imagine as pictures. (Memories are essentially pictures in
your head).

Here’s the code

0 = s or z
1 = d or t
2 = n
3 = m
4 = r
5 = L
6 = j or sh
7 = k
8 = f or v
9 = b or p

So to code the number 21, you convert it to ‘nt’ and add a
vowel that has no meaning to give ‘net’. You can see a picture
of a net easier than visualising 21.

This takes care of the number part of a date but what about
the month?

You can represent months as numbers (January = 1, February = 2,
etc) but this starts to get complex as you’ll have to make
up words involving 3 letters. (eg 21st February = 21/2 = ntn
which becomes ‘Indian’). I think a better method is to
represent months by more direct associations and then use
these to ‘modify’ the images generated from the number part
of the date. Let me explain…

January = ice and snow (in the northern hemisphere – If you
are in Australia you could use a barbecue).

February = associations with Valentine’s Day: Hearts,
chocolates, roses, etc.

March = marching soldiers or March hares or Spring flowers

April = rain (April Showers)

May = dancing round a maypole with ribbons and bells

June = sunshine (once again only in the Northern hemisphere)

July = American associations (from Independence Day being 4th
July): The statue of liberty, the star spangled banner, etc.

August = Roman associations (August is named after Augustus
Cesar): Classical columns, togas, etc.

September = Autumn leaves

October = Halloween associations: Witches, ghosts, pumpkins

November = Guy Fawkes Night associations (in England):
Fireworks and bonfires.

December = Christmas associations: Christmas trees,
decorations, cards, presents, etc.

As you will start to notice, memory systems tend to be very
culturally specific and one person’s associations do not
generally correspond with someone else’s. It is always best
to come up with your own associations but let’s work with
mine as a guide for the time being.

Going back to our example of 21st of February this can be a
NeT  scooping up chocolates (for Valentine’s Day).

21st June (My Birthday) would be catching the Sun in a NeT.

To remember who each date refers to, just make an additional
association. So for my birthday imagine me wielding the net.

Once you have learned two digit codes from 01 = soot to
31 = mat you can code any date and easily remember all the
birthdays of your friends and family.

Selling for Down To The Earth

A collection of ideas and thoughts about selling cookery classes and soups and sauces.

Sources: Lou Larsen; Shelle Rose Charvet; Matt Fox; Cialdini; NLP selling book; Business metaphor?

The selling goal …

-The paradox is that you are really after feelings as a result of achieving your goals and these you can feel now. Imagine what it’s like to feel the feelings ahead of time and then approach getting the goal without need.

By being up front with the customer you remove any fears they may have and establish trust with them.

My job is to sell “Soups and Sauces” . I’m going to do this buy asking you some questions and then if I feel we have soup or sauce for you then I’m going to ask you if you would like to sign up for a sale and then you have two choices – YES (raise right hand and say with raised pitch) or you can of course say NO (lower left hand and say with lower voice tone) I want you to make the right choice.

People buy for only two reasons :

1 Away from – a problem away from pain

2 Towards – to gain pleasure

Tag questions, quotes and embedded commands

-The two keys to customer satisfaction and loyalty include: Accuracy (doing what you say you’re going to do) and, Availability, the product/service/person is there when a customer needs them.

A key skill in selling is pre-empting objections and empathising with the customers point of view. Finding out their frustrations and offering solutions.


Hi Ace

If I could show you a simple way to change someone’s mind, have them take your advice, reverse their opinion, or make them buy from you quickly, would you be interested?

Then go to:

There you will find more information on using some of the world’s most effective and powerful language patterns and persuasion techniques. I think you’ll find it quite interesting — and quite unlike anything you’ve seen before.

But there is a way to get them a bit more motivated by injecting your ad with a little self-consciousness, a little keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, even a little old-fashioned.

And all you need is one word.

What is it?

The word “still”.

“Still” implies that your prospects are stuck in the past. It can imply that what they are doing is wrong. It can imply that their problems haven’t been solved. It also suggests that your product is up-to-date, trend setting, new, etc.


“If you’re still….”

“Are you still…?”

“Do you still…?”


“If you’re still using Microsoft Word to create documents…” (Maybe you are selling another type of word processing software, you’d give reasons why your product is better than Word.)

“Are you still searching for your soul mate?” (For a dating service or relationship book)

“Do you still use Yahoo to search the internet?” (Here you’d give reasons why you shouldn’t be using Yahoo.)

When I use this frame in writing ads for my clients, I like to use the question form more (Do you still..?/Are you still…?) because asking questions of your readers demands an answer. We are programed to answer questions. Don’t you agree with me?

Are you still using standard language in your ads…and getting stale results, then take a look at the following:


Luckily we have a word that can be used in many situations where you are trying to persuade someone. And you’ve probably seen it in a number of successful advertisements. That word is “imagine.”

When you use imagine as an imperative (a command) like this, you pretty much engage a person’s entire internal experience. This makes it quite appealing.

• Imagine what it would be like…

• Imagine for a moment that it’s a month from today…

• Now imagine you…

• Imagine what you could do if you…

• Allow yourself to imagine a scene of…

• Just imagine how you’ll feel…

• What happens when you imagine…?

At the end of the frame you future pace the benefit of doing what you want them to do. You could also future pace the consequences of not doing what you want them to do. But generally, it’s more effective if you future pace the positive.

You can also use these Imagine frames to start a bulleted list of benefits.

Here are some examples of the above frames:

•  “Imagine what it would be like after you mastered these language patterns.”

•  “Imagine for a moment that it’s a month from today and you can persuade just about anybody with these patterns.”

•  “Now imagine you just gave a business presentation and your audience was completely enthralled.”

•  “Imagine what you could do if you could persuade thousands of people at the same time.”

•  “Allow yourself to imagine a scene of total success.”

•  “Just imagine how you’ll feel after you experience the power of these language patterns.”

• “What happens when you imagine people actually doing the things you told them to do?”


1. Get clear on your outcome. What do you want your target to do, think, feel, or believe?

2. Use this frame –

Maybe you haven’t (YOUR OUTCOME) yet.


Maybe you haven’t read my book yet.”

Maybe you haven’t put it out of your mind yet.”

Maybe you haven’t decided to come with me yet.”

This language pattern is great in that you start getting your target to actually think about what you want with less resistance. After all, you are only making an assumption.

This is very similar to the sales techniques of the Assumptive Close. This is where you act as-if the prospect is going to buy:

“When should we deliver it to your house?”

“What will your neighbors say when they see it?”

“Where will you put it?”

As I’ve mentioned before, you can stack additional language patterns onto this pattern to make it stronger and more complete. You can add embedded commands, Reasons-why, and linguistic binds. Like this,

Maybe you haven’t checked out the following catalog yet. It’s a good idea to  take a look now  because you will find all sorts of information on how to sell more of your products and services.


Here’s the frame:

Most/Many/ (NUMBER) people feel (WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO FEEL) when they (WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO DO).


•  “Most people get excited when they study NLP language patterns.”

•  “Many people feel a great sense of relief after coming to ABC Resume Service.” (for a resume/CV writing company)

• “Many people feel a deep sense of contentment when they enter this house.” (for a real estate agent)

This language pattern also uses the powerful influence of Social Proof which states that most people look to see what others are doing and take their cue to behave in a certain way from what they know others are doing.

And of course you can convert the first part of this language pattern (the emotion) into an embedded command.

You can use types of people in the first part of this language pattern as well: “Thousands of marketers feel inspired when they use NLP in their advertising.


Here’s a collection of positive states to use in the Truisms of Sensation pattern.

Joy – Relief – Serenity – Interest – Connected – Fascinated – Inspired – Awe – Accepted – Brave – Fulfilled – Assertive – At ease – Understood – Strength – Sensational – Revitalized – Satisfied – Reassured – Powerful – Positive – Passionate – Motivated – Liberated – Independent – Honored – Grounded – Energized – Fortified – Free – Content – Pleased – Invincible – In control – Supported

There are plenty more emotional words in any thesaurus that would be a perfect fit for the people you are targeting.


And the process is simple. You merely say something (or things) that a person would likely agree with or to. Then you add the suggestion you really want to implant.

The structure would go like this:


Here are some examples:

● You are resting comfortably in that chair. It’s nice and pleasant to go into a deep trance.

● Communicating clearly is vitally important for business, isn’t it? Your company needs to take this seminar to do well in these problematic economic times.

● It’s imperative to be able to influence and persuade people. And it’s important to have a specific method of doing that. NLP languagepatterns contain that method elegantly and eloquently.

Is/Are (SUBJECT) (X)?

(X) is something positive or negative you want your readers/listeners to think about or believe. But it has to be a chunk or two up a level and not at the same level as the subject; this would just lead to a normal “Yes/No” question. For example,

“Are Doberman pinchers black and brown?”

That’s just a plain question about a type of dog. It’s asking about something on the same level (a physical description).

Now if we up the power of (X) we create a rhetorical question that states your opinion. Like this:

“Are Doberman pinchers the best guard dogs for your home?”

That was for a positive spin. For something negative, we could do this:

“Are Doberman pinchers the world’s most dangerous dog?”

Used this way, a “simple” Yes/No question becomes a way to inject a presupposition into it, especially if the person reading your piece doesn’t have a formed opinion or knowledge about your subject. On the other hand, if your reader knows about the subject you are writing about, they might be intrigued to read more about your views and thoughts on the subject.

This pattern makes a great headline in that it gets your prospective reader curious, and that’s always a good state to get people into…especially if you are selling something.


In NLP’s Meta-Model, we have a violation called “Mind Reading”. It’s where someone believes they know the thoughts, feelings, intentions or motivations, of another person or persons. Like these:

  • They must think I’m a fool.
  • You wouldn’t understand.
  • They hate me.
  • You know what I’m going through.
  • She should know how I feel.

As you can see, these are quite disempowering. We would use the Meta-Model to deconstruct these beliefs and to find out how the speaker came to these conclusions.

But interestingly enough, there is a Milton Model language pattern that uses mind reading for therapeutic benefit.

I know you’re wondering … (“I know you’re wondering what you will experience during this session.”)

When we use Erickson’s Mind Reading in our conversation, writing, and advertising we can create a sense of empathy to deepen rapport with our recipient. It becomes somewhat of a pacing statement. Some copywriters call this method “Psychic Influence” because we are telling our recipients how they feel or what they are thinking at the moment.

Here are some frames you can use:

  • I know you …
  • You’re probably thinking …
  • Presently you …
  • In the past you …
  • Remember when you…?

Some examples:

  • “I know you are going to love this.”
  • “You’re probably thinking that this isn’t going to work.”
  • “Presently you need help with mastering language patterns.”
  • “In the past you’ve had trouble communicating clearly with people and getting what you wanted.”
  • Remember when you first realized the power of NLP language patterns?”

The last pattern is useful in that it can invoke nostalgia, a powerful emotion in many people. “Remember when you were a kid and you finally discovered you could read?”

With this pattern you can make your recipient of your message feel empathy, rapport and understanding; bring on strong emotions (your message will be much more powerful if you make it more emotional); admit they have a problem (that you can solve). Use it with a mix of other language patterns to get your readers or listeners highly motivated.

Clean language WFO

Ask yourself:
1. And what would I like to have happen in 2013?
Answer by stating what you would like, not what you want to get rid of/ not have/avoid/stop doing, e.g. ‘I’d like to eat healthily.’ rather than ‘I’d like to stop overeating.’; ‘I want to build a better relationship with my father.’ rather than ‘I don’t want to fight endlessly with my father .’)
2. And is there anything else about that (answer to Q1)?
Add detail to your previous answer.
3. And all of that (answers to Q1 and Q2) is like what?
This asks for a metaphor for your desired outcome.  Your metaphor can be imaginary (like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow), or a real experience you’ve had/your memory of it (like climbing the Grand Canyon), an amalgamation of memories (like Christmas morning when I was a child), or anything else. There are no right or wrong answers.
4. Then ask these questions, in any order, and repeating them as seems useful, to learn more about your metaphor (‘x’ and ‘y’ refer to any word or phrase that you’ve said.  Keep to words and phrases that refer to your desired outcome rather than to any problems):
And is there anything else about x?
And what kind of x is that x?
And where is that x? or Whereabouts is that x?
And that x is like what? And is
there a relationship between x and y?
And when x, what happens to y?
5. Now you know about the form of your desired outcome, learn about the sequence in which things happen in your metaphor. Again, ask the questions in whatever order seems useful and repeat them as needed:
And then what happens? or What happens next?
And what happens just before x?
And where could x come from?
6. By now, your metaphor may have transformed or evolved, and you may have decided that you have all you need for your desired outcome to be realised, in which case ask yourself more of the questions from section 4, to make your metaphor ‘all singing and all dancing’ so that it has substance and staying-power (all my metaphors of course, not yours and therefore not Clean – sorry!).
7. If it is still a work in progress, ask yourself:
And what needs to happen for (metaphor of desired outcome)?
And is there anything else that needs to happen?  Repeat this question until the answer is ‘No.’
Write all your answers down. They are the conditions that need to be in place for you to realise your desired outcome.
8. Now check if/how the conditions can be achieved. For each condition ask:
And can [condition] (happen)?
If ‘Yes.’ then give it a tick and move on.
If ‘No.’ ask:
And what needs to happen for [condition] (to happen)?
And then repeatedly ask:
And is there anything else that needs to happen? until the answer is ‘No.’ And then loop back to the start of section 8 and keep looping until any issues with conditions have been addressed.
Then return to section 6 to get your metaphor all singing and dancing.
9. Finish by doing whatever will make that metaphor still more memorable to you, e.g. drawing a picture of your metaphor (no need for it to be a masterpiece), making a 3D model, looking up any meaning-filled words in a dictionary with the derivation of words (etymology) to see if any further insights come from what you read, taking actions related to the  metaphor, finding out about processes related to the metaphor e.g. learning how seeds germinate, if the metaphor involves a seed taking root, or finding an object to act as a reminder of the metaphor.
May 2013 be a year you remember for all the right reasons!


Communicating with our people in an Airline


  • Excellent and targeted communication by management is a precursor to trust and engagement by the workforce. See my Secrets of Communicating with Pilots for the answers.
  • “Know your audience” and know that your communication will fall on willing ears.
  • Accept pilots for who they are: Intelligent introverts, and use this to the benefit of the group.

Suggestions for better communications within the UK:

There seems to be an incredible amount of effort and energy spent trying to find out what “they are up to”. For example web chats and forum posts etc. All trying to catch the company out. So I guess management need to convey this information more frequently which will have the side effect of slowly breaking down the us and them situation, after if we are not “Thomas Cook” who is? Remember Tim Walker’s story about his squadron. If this Squadron is shit then so are you.

Sources used: Brilliant Minds; Andrew T Austin; Online articles; Fruitbat; Shelle Rose-Charvet

Models used: Metaprograms; Business metaphors; Myers Briggs; 4Mat

Following on from my interest in Engaging with our people in an Airline it has become apparent to me that the way in which we communicate with pilots will directly influence the way that they engage with the organisation. The company want engaged staff because engaged staff are more productive, more efficient, take fewer sick days and generally perform better.

One solution from ETS plc (who carry out the Echo survey for TCX) was to influence what we as individuals THINK, this in turn will affect the way that they FEEL about the company and hence alter the way they DO things. That is the way we behave and engage.

To achieve this their whole approach is to align the strategy of the organisation, ie what’s in it for the company with the suggested questionnaire. Surveys are tweaked accordingly. By asking specific questions and then producing specific action plans and carrying them out, all will be well. Ask them what they want, do it and life’s a beach. Well until the results start to fall I guess? My experience of Action Planning is pretty poor. It requires  very committed manager and the work force seem to be pretty unconvinced by the outcomes for reason. All this action requires time, energy and money whilst getting on with the day job. The ECS approach would imply that there are a set of outcomes ie Behaviours that are being sought from the outset by the company. From an NLP perspective behaviour is of course the output from an individual which has been filtered and tweaked by all the usual Blueprint of Behaviour influences. In principal I agree with the concept of THINK FEEL DO but I do not believe that the ETS method is the best way to go abut it.

The second suggested solution from Dianne Lowther is to engage with every individual pilot on a 1-2-1 basis and ask the following style questions:

  • What would it take to engage that person, what would it take to fulfil their values?
  • What’s going to make the work meaningful and enjoyable to them?
  • What’s going to make them proud to work for this organisation?

Now lets agree that this is not going to happen soon so the question is how else are we going to glean this information?


I have recently read a great deal written by Dianne Lowther from Brilliant Minds and in particular her work on why the iT department nearly always come bottom in any staff survey and this got me thinking about the similarity between Pilots and IT personnel. In particular I was intrigued by the possibility of a direct comparison and then transferring these findings to TCX.


Do you recognise these people? Disaffected, cynical and disengaged.They bring up negative concern after negative concern? Not to mention nit-picking the most picayune details?”  They often tell you “I don’t know what’s going on around here!” Suspicious and even a little paranoid. Long memories of perceived injustices. Well you probably would not call these people “Intelligent Introverts” would you? Well Dianne does and her point is that these people can be extremely useful in an organisation should you choose to use their qualities.

More work by Dianne includes a closer look at Introverts and Extroverts.

According to Myers Briggs the definition of an Introvert may not be the stereotype that you hold :  “What a person will do after a days work to re-charge their batteries.”

  • Spend time with friends and family often at home.
  • Read the paper and or watch television or the web.
  • Happy with their own thoughts and ideas.
  • Poor at small talk and get frustrated by it.
  • Go for depth of knowledge – so may have a long term hobby or sport.
  • Goes for depth of experience
  • Takes time to trust somebody

She has also produced a publication about Why the IT department sucks at engagement.

This is a short list of stuff that may be worth considering regarding communication:

  1. Intelligent Introverts (see above for Introversion)
  2. The “Business”
  3. Interpersonal skills

Intelligent Extroverts offer:

  • High IQ
  • Introversion
  • A broad view of most situations
  • Logical thinking
  • Good memory
  • Myers-Brigs: Cool Blues Analytics and in NLP terms Digitals (like logic and detail)

I would like to suggest that the last two are changed so that it reads:

  1. Intelligent Introverts (see above for Introversion)
  2. The “Business” needs you! Why not harness the attributes of these guys and engage with them.
  3. Airline Interpersonal skills and personal development: Technical ability comes first and managers lack the confidence as leaders. They are often promoted for their technical ability or knowledge and not their leadership qualities.

Intelligent introverts don’t judge you on what you do, but on how you think.

I’m not sure just how this can be achieved in TCX, lets see what emerges.


Here are some interesting ideas about the sort of people we pilots are. The first one is from AVweb and suggests the following:

 In a practical sense your non-pilot manager must understand that your concern with what might go wrong is not negativity. Instead, it is the pilot’s natural training to look for problems that he/she does not even remotely imagine are going to happen. It is fastening your safety belt taken to an extreme. And since, as a pilot, many lives depend on your decisions, you tend to take things to an extreme.

Here’s another rather funny one from the partner of a pilot and some possibly useful findings:

“Pilots tend to be scanners, drawing conclusions rapidly about situational facts. Pilots scan people as if they were instruments; they draw conclusions at a glance rather than relying on long and emotion-laden conversations.”

And here is a list of Traits of Pilots which also includes a couple more references.

  • “More concerned with modifying their environment than changing their own behaviour.”
  • “Pilots are bimodal: on/off, black/white, good/bad, safe/unsafe, regulations/non-regulations.”
  • “…in some ways, pilots are the most consistent and even-keeled group anyone is likely to meet…” they are “trained not to rush!”
  • “Pilots tend to be self sufficient and may have difficulty functioning in team situations without CRM and other training.”
  • “Perhaps there are times that you as a pilot need to understand that some business projects can be rushed with no significant loss of effectiveness. Equally important, help others to understand that to a pilot “rushing” is often synonymous with “making hasty and dangerous decisions.””
  • ” ….. most pilots want to know about anything that affects their work, even tangentially.” Pilots like information that is “condensed” and “to the point,” just like talking to ATC. A lot of pertinent, essential information conveyed succinctly. They must understand why they are being told this information and what is going to happen during the rest of the meeting or FCN or briefing.
  • “Pilots are positive but they remain so by questioning everything that could go wrong. They are diligent but they do not like rushing, especially to meet artificial deadlines. They are interested in what’s going on but like to have a quick overview of the big picture at the outset and they like their information to be concise. Finally, they are cooperative but never ask them to delegate decisions about safety; it’s not a choice they have nor one passengers would want them to have.”

Optimistic and positive attitude; self confident; self disciplined; detailed; logical; good social skills; good reasoning; high personal standards; firm but polite; hard nosed to the point of intransigent when it comes to flight safety;


  • Internally referenced vs Externally referenced
  • Procedural vs Options
  • Detailed vs big picture although when not in the cockpit could be big picture
  • Balance of towards OTP and getting the job done and away from danger or lack of safety.


This work comes from Shelle Rose-Charvet. See my work on this subject here.

Engaging with our people in an Airline

Summary: Created Jan 2013 last update 16 Jun 2014

  • An engagement index should measure the internal feeling that an employee has for the organisation that he works for and not simply a score about the external work environment.
  • Engage with your people individually and they will in turn engage with the organisation.
  • Questions still exist regarding how the organisation intend to increase the engagement index of Pilots.
  • Change what your employees Think about their managers and this will in turn change how they Feel about their management and this will ultimately change what they Do for the company.

Models used: Harvard Memo Template

Sources: Online articles; etsplc; ;

I have recently begun a dialogue with our Group Head of Air Travel Christoph Debus. This has taken the form of me emoting about my feeling of being un-engaged or even de-engaged (if there is a difference) from my immediate management and above. It follows several letters and communications regarding our future as an airline and the What, Why and even “What will happen if we don’t do stuff” but very little about me as a line Pilot and the HOW we are going to do things differently. In addition “the company” is not happy with the “engagement figures” 39% compared to the national average of 64% what ever that means.

Now does this tell me more about my preferred way of receiving communication or the unthoughtful way that I am being communicated at? Or both? In addition why am I interested in any of this stuff? What do I get to prove and what’s in it for me? What is engaging me in this example of poor engagement?

I guess I care about TCX and my job and I wish to test out my knowledge of human interaction, personality types, metaprograms and the application of a few NLP presuppositions. It’s a chance to get involved in the relationships between management and Pilots which I assume is an area that has not received too much attention from an analysis point of view. In addition it’s a great opportunity to have a look at profiling Mr Debus and mixing in some Neuro Logical Levels.

The overall situation reminds me of the Harvard University format: Problem scenario – Questions raised – Suggested Solutions – Draw your own conclusions. So I will use this format as a template to see how it works out.


Warning Generalisations coming up! Pilots feel unengaged and do not trust management. They are generally cynical about the company and the motives of management. They believe that double standards are being applied to some staff and certainly by most managers especially around financial bonuses.

From what I know of the company they would like to see the engagement figures higher and for us all to pull together as one team in this transformation stage of the rebuilding of TCX Group and in particular the UK Airline. How then will the company do this? There is a difference here between the number of people completing the survey and the Engagement Index generated. See ETS section below.


Definition: or what specifically does TCX mean by Engagement? On a basic level does it mean the number of people that completed the ECHO survey or the results of the survey.

In an letter to the group Harriett says “….make this a better place to work…” and later on “Amongst the many questions each survey featured, there are 15 standardised engagement questions that will give us clear visibility about how you all feel about working for the Thomas Cook Group and how you think we’ve been performing as a business and an employer over the past year.”

From Ken Smith and the Listener: “The inquiry into what employees think about their place of work has metamorphosed into an assessment of the extent to which they want to stay and are willing to proclaim the merits of their organisation, and of their readiness to make additional, discretionary effort for it. In many ways this deeper, strategic enquiry into employees’ satisfaction with, and emotional attachment to, their organisation is to be applauded. ”

I came across this nice article on the subject which helped me understand some of the differences between employee satisfaction and employee engagement. So this article would suggest that:

Employee satisfaction is external to the employee ie more to do with his or her environment, colleagues and bosses (e.g., I have the materials I need to do my work right; My supervisor, or someone at work seems to care about me as a person; I have a best friend at work). Staff opinion poll could be another way of describing this type of measurement.

Employee engagement is far more to do with activation on the part of the employee, the willingness to expend his or her’s discretionary effort to help the employer and how he or she feels internally about the company and their part in it.


I checked out a little of what ETS plc says about its survey and found the following Think – Feel – Do model really interesting:

Think Feel Do

The ‘Think, Feel, Do’ framework that we use to create an engagement index recognises
that an employee’s perceptions of their organisation – for example their understanding
of individual contribution to the strategic direction, job fit, perceptions of the manager
(what they think) – will determine how they feel about working for the company.

Exactly what engaged employees feel will differ between organisations. For example;
pride, passion and a sense of belonging are frequently experienced by engaged
employees (what they feel). But many qualities of an engaged employee are unique to
an organisation and its business context. And what an employee feels will drive their
behaviour (what they do).

So it would apear that ETS do use a way of measuring the true meaning of engagement as the above article suggests so how are we to improve the index and therefor the response rate and presumably create higher productivity and performance?


The following video from Dianne Lowther is a really great NLP style look at the whole Staff Engagement conundrum. I have written up a transcript of her words here. She has also written an article about the Rules of Engagement.


Does Christoph actually want to improve our engagement index or is he happy with our productivity and performance as such?

Where in fact do pilots fit in the big scheme of the Echo Survey? Do pilots know why the scheme is so important. Do we need to be engaged?

How can we improve the pilot’s engagement with customers and fellow workers? CRM? Personal development?

How much does the current Echo survey cost? How can TCX spend half this and come up with a better solution? Who reads Echo surveys? What do they mean to me on the line?


Let’s assume that what the company are doing is not working. If you always do.

The ETS solution would suggest that we should alter and influence what the pilots Think. In due course this will affect what they FEEL and eventually what they DO as a result of these feelings. This is done by following up action plans and meetings and charts and stuff which is not working for me!

The Brilliant Minds solution is to Engage with the individual and their engagement with the organisation will follow. Ask each individual the following style questions:

  • What would it take to engage that person, what would it take to fulfil their values?
  • What’s going to make the work meaningful and enjoyable to them?
  • What’s going to make them proud to work for this organisation?

As of 28th Jan 2013 this is the required action from the latest communication regarding engagement. Your feedback also told us we need to focus on –

  • Communicating a clear and compelling plan and strategy for the UK Airline
  • Further focus on delivering greater customer focus
  • Ensuring people have the opportunity to discuss the issues that we are facing as a company with their line manager and input ideas on how to resolve
  • A much stronger focus on effective performance management with a particular focus on individual development and career growth

On the assumption that TCX will not go with the one on one solution then at least by communicating differently  with pilots we may see some change in thinking. See this post regarding Communicating with our people in an Airline.

01 Oct 2013 update

Comments in Every Voice propaganda letters:

This is an important step for the company – understanding, in detail, what you think, what you want and how we can work together to make our airline even stronger.  Your voice matters, so please make sure that you take time to complete this survey.

You also have my guarantee that we as a management team will openly share with you the results of the survey, explaining what actions we will take across our airline to address the issues you raise.  I am committed to ensuring that we take action based on your feedback.

It’s really important that we get feedback from as many of you as possible. Every voice counts and we will use this feedback to redefine and adjust our improvement measures for next year

Every voice really does count and we – as a management team – will use this feedback to redefine and adjust our improvement measures for next year. We will communicate the improvement measures to you and you will be able to monitor the progress.

… is vital that we receive your feedback.

It is really important that we receive the views from as many of you as possible on our airline and Thomas Cook so we can properly shape our future as we strive to become the best sun, beach and leisure focused airline.
As I said last week, as a management team we are committed to feeding back to you once we have the results of the survey, and we will share with you our action plans as we take on board your feedback.
Your feedback is critical and will help the organisation identify the actions that will drive the Transformation and business success at Thomas Cook.

Here’s an interesting open letter from the HR Focus Magazine which also sheds a little light on the subject.

Dear employee,

If you were to give answers to the following questions, what would you say?

·         How do you feel about working for your organisation?

·         How will you describe the way the organisation treats you as an employee?

·         What will make you leave the organisation?

·         What are the organisation’s values and what do they mean?

·         What specific behaviours are aligned to the organisation’s values?

·         What is rewarded in the organisation?

·         Will you be comfortable sharing your answers (or thoughts) with your boss or any senior person in your organisation?

If some of the answers are negative, (or you do not know the answers), and you cannot have an open discussion about your concerns with a senior person within the organisation, you are probably disengaged; and disengaged employees are not productive.

You probably work with an organisation that touts the fact that ‘employees are their greatest asset’. However on a daily basis, the behaviour you observe from those who should know better is totally inconsistent with this. For example:

·         You have a great idea on how certain ways of working or services could be improved, but the last time someone within the organisation brought up a bright idea, he was told it was not his job to come up with ideas. And yet ‘innovation’ is one of the company’s values or

·         Whilst the company says ‘customer satisfaction’ is important, you very often see your managers grumble anytime they have to attend customer requests; and they never return customer calls or

·         Your company values ‘respect’, yet employees are treated differently depending on how senior they are or

·         Anytime you try to be ‘proactive’, you are denigrated as being ‘all knowing’ or

·         The only people recognised and rewarded are those who achieve results through individual effort, yet ‘teamwork’ is supposed to be encouraged.

The list could go on and on, and I am sure you get the drift.

It is therefore not surprising that you have very little emotional connection with the work you do and the organisation you work for.

You think back and recap how you got recruited to the organisation and recollect the interview.  You remember that no questions were asked about how you fit into the organisational culture, or whether or not you were aligned to their values. The focus was solely on technical competence and previous experience.

You then remember your first week at work. There was no formal induction. You were literally on your own and had to find things out for yourself. No one shared the company’s mission, vision, goals, strategy and vision; yet you are expected to contribute to the success of the business. A lot of what you learnt was from informal interactions with peers in the organisation-some of it very contradictory and confusing. As a result, for a very long time you had no idea what the performance expectations were and how they will be measured. You also did not know what learning and development support existed and what career prospects there were. And yet your organisation says it believes in developing its people.

Very often you have to close from work late; not necessarily because there is a lot of work to do, but more because it is perceived that those who stay longer are the hard working ones. This you find very amusing because most of the time, those who stay on do virtually no work. Many are undertaking private courses and use this time to study, whilst others just ‘kill time’.

So here you are, musing over your current situation, wondering how come your once exciting career has become dull and why it takes so much effort to get out of bed, go to the office and work with passion to exceed expectations.

The answer is simple. It has nothing to do with your capabilities, and everything to do with the culture of the organisation you work for.  The way the organisation works, the relationship it has with its employees and customers, its values and environment has affected you and the way you work. Trying to make a difference is like swimming against the tide, and sooner than later you give up.

Dear employee, like many things in life, you have a choice. In this case, you either stay in your current organisation where ‘presentism’ is high (i.e. everyone turns up for work, closes late but achieves very little), become de-motivated and become an average performer; or simply find a new job.

By the way, the next time you are job hunting, spend as much time researching the company’s culture (behaviour, relationships, attitudes, values and environment) as you will spend researching the company’s product and profitability. Where possible, go beyond the company’s website. Read news items, reviews on products and services, customers’ perceptions and opinions etc. The bottom line is that, you are unlikely to be successful working in an organisation whose values do not align with yours, and sooner or later you will be disengaged.

I strongly urge you to share this with your HR Manager, and ask him or her whether he or she is confident that all the high performing employees do not feel the same way you do.

I wish you well.

Sigismund Dzeble – Head of HR – PZ Cussons


Update June 2014

Here is a link to the latest action plan as a result of the Every Voice survey.